Alison Roman Meatballs Recipe: Savoring Tradition with a Twist

Alison Roman Meatballs

Among Alison Roman impressive repertoire of recipes, her meatball creation stands as a testament to her creative genius. Offering a delightful twist on tradition, Alison Roman’s meatball recipe combines unexpected ingredients and techniques to yield a dish that is not only flavorful but also deeply satisfying.

Join us as we delve into the nuances of Alison Roman’s Meatballs recipe, uncovering the secrets behind its success and celebrating its exceptional taste.

Alison Roman Meatballs Recipe


For the Meatballs

  • 1 cup of whole milk, ricotta cheese with full fat (Cottage cheese is also a viable option and provides a surprising alternative, as it works remarkably well)
  • ½ cup of finely chopped parsley
  • ½ cup of parmesan cheese, grated
  • ⅓ cup of panko bread crumbs (I specifically recommend panko due to its consistent availability in my kitchen, and its textural resemblance to conventional bread crumbs. However, freshly-made bread crumbs are equally suitable. Avoid the Italian style, as it tends to be too sandy in texture.)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, finely grated or minced
  • ½ of a medium-sized yellow or red onion, very finely chopped (the remaining half will be used for the sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, with extra for seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper and/or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 pound of ground beef
  • 1 pound of ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil

For the Sauce

  • 1 ½ medium yellow or red onions, finely chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A few anchovies or a couple of dashes of fish sauce (optional)
  • 2–3 tablespoons of tomato paste (if available)
  • 1 can (22 ounces) of whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 12 ounces of fresh tomatoes, whole if small, halved if medium, or chopped if large (varieties such as cherry tomatoes, plum tomatoes, or others can be used depending on what you have on hand)
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For the Meatballs:

  1. Combine ricotta, parsley, parmesan, bread crumbs, eggs, garlic, and onion in a medium bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and optional crushed red pepper flakes. Allow the mixture to rest for about 10 minutes; this will hydrate the bread crumbs, resulting in tender meatballs.
  2. Add beef and pork along with the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt. Mixing by hand is preferable to ensure thorough incorporation. Embrace the tactile experience – it’s quite satisfying.
  3. Once well-mixed (resembling something akin to sausage), form a small test meatball.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Brown the test meatball on all sides, ensuring it’s well-cooked. Taste it – is it flavorful, savory, and tender? Adjust the seasoning accordingly. This is a perfect opportunity to customize the taste to your liking, perhaps adding more salt or a dash of spiciness.
  5. Roll the remaining mixture into approximately 2-inch diameter meatballs. If you prefer larger meatballs, feel free to adjust the size. Typically, you’ll get around 24 meatballs from this mixture.
  6. In batches, brown the meatballs, focusing on achieving a deep golden-brown color rather than obsessing over uniform roundness. Each batch will take around 3-4 minutes to brown, knowing they’ll complete cooking in the sauce.
  7. Once all meatballs are browned, place them in a large bowl and set aside while you prepare the sauce.

For the Sauce:

  1. Utilizing the same pot without wiping it clean, add onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, occasionally stirring, until the onions and garlic turn translucent and tender but haven’t yet browned – about 8-10 minutes. If anchovies are part of the plan, add them, and if you have tomato paste, incorporate it as well. Stir until the anchovies melt and the tomato paste caramelizes to a deeper shade of red – roughly 2-3 minutes.
  2. Introduce fresh tomatoes to the pot, seasoning again with salt and pepper. Cook until they burst and transform into a jam-like consistency, approximately 5 minutes. Follow by adding canned tomatoes, using the half-filled can of water to collect residual tomato bits. Pour this into the pot, and season once more with salt and pepper.
  3. Bring the mixture to a simmer and taste to adjust for salt, bearing in mind that the sauce will slightly reduce and intensify in saltiness when combined with the meatballs. Add both the meatballs and any accumulated juices from the bowl.
  4. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and let the meatballs cook in the sauce (uncovered) until the sauce thickens to perfection and the meatballs reach a tender, cooked-through state – a process taking around 30-40 minutes.
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  • The uncooked meatball mixture freezes well, offering the flexibility to prepare half now and freeze the remainder for future use.
  • Allowing the ricotta, egg, and bread crumb mixture to rest for a minimum of 10 minutes. In many meatball recipes, there’s usually a step involving soaking bread in milk, but Alison Roman takes a unique approach. Instead of milk, she opts for cheese as the soaking medium, and she stands by it.
  • Opting to sear the meatballs within the pot before preparing the sauce. While Alison Roman has experimented with baking them on a sheet pan, they come out acceptably well. They don’t turn out poorly by any means. However, what they lack is the appealing golden-brown exterior. Placing the meatballs on a baking sheet and trying to achieve that coveted “browning” effect in the oven tends to result in steaming and the risk of overcooking before they achieve that sought-after brown color.

What to Serve with

Alison Roman’s meatballs with tomato sauce can be served with a variety of side dishes to complement the flavors. Here are some ideas:

  1. Pasta: Serve the meatballs and tomato sauce over your favorite pasta, such as spaghetti or penne, for a classic and hearty meal.
  2. Crusty Bread: A loaf of crusty bread is perfect for soaking up the delicious tomato sauce.
  3. Polenta: Creamy polenta is a comforting and hearty side dish that pairs well with meatballs and tomato sauce.
  4. Vegetables: Serve a side of roasted vegetables, such as broccoli, zucchini, or bell peppers, to add some freshness and color to the meal.
  5. Salad: A simple green salad with a light vinaigrette can help balance out the richness of the meatballs and tomato sauce.
  6. Cheese: Sprinkle some grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese over the meatballs and sauce for an extra layer of flavor.
  7. Wine: Pair the meal with a glass of red wine, such as Chianti or Merlot, to enhance the flavors of the dish.

Feel free to mix and match these side dishes to create a meal that suits your taste and preferences.

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How to Store

To store Alison Roman’s meatballs or any meatballs, follow these guidelines:

  1. Cool Down: Allow the meatballs to cool down to room temperature before storing.
  2. Refrigeration: Store the meatballs in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can be stored for 3-4 days.
  3. Freezing: Meatballs can be frozen for longer storage. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until solid. Then, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or bag. Frozen meatballs can be stored for up to 3 months.
  4. Thawing: When you’re ready to enjoy the frozen meatballs, thaw them in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat them in the oven, microwave, or on the stovetop before serving.
  5. Sauce: If the meatballs are in a sauce, store them together to keep them moist. Otherwise, store them separately from the sauce.

Always refer to the specific recipe for any unique storage instructions.

Alison Roman’s Meatballs recipe is a culinary revelation that invites us to reimagine familiar flavors in a whole new light. With her signature approach of embracing unconventional elements, Alison elevates the humble meatball to a level of gastronomic delight that is both playful and sophisticated.

The juxtaposition of ingredients, the innovative cooking methods, and the meticulous attention to detail come together harmoniously to create a dish that transcends expectations.

As you embark on your culinary journey with Alison Roman’s Meatballs recipe, prepare to be captivated not only by the delicious results but also by the imaginative spirit that defines her approach to cooking.

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